Yes I am in a corporate box. And yes there are large groups of people around me chatting and socializing. And yes I am standing by myself; alone. I believe there is a metaphor in everything, and that this was no accident. Being a poet doesn't mean you're always going to fit in. People aren't always going to take you seriously. People say poetry doesn't save lives, or build buildings, or bakes cakes, or influence politics. People say poetry is useless. Whilst I like to network at social events I found it very hard tonight. People will generally gravitate to you if they see you as a person of influence at these big events. And clearly in their eyes I was not. Poetry isn't important enough. Well I'll show you. And I'm coming for you first Auckland Council. I'll show you that poetry is the most effective public policy influencing mechanism out there. I dream that poetry will one day influence elections, transform democracy and implement public policies. I am going to post a poem tomorrow night so bare with my friends.
So guess who was lucky enough to get to go see Ngugi wa Thiong’o talking with Kubé Jones-Neill at @aklwritersfest? Meeeee!! (what sort of amazing lecturer gives out free tickets for world-class literary events as rewards for A grades?!)
Ngugi is not just a bloody great writer, but also a human rights champion who spends his life and work grappling with the post-colonial experience. Described as the Kenyan Mandela, he literally wrote one of his most powerful novels on TOILET PAPER inside a MAXIMUM SECURITY PRISON that he was thrown in just for using his voice and work to protest injustice.
Anyway... Ngugi spent quite a bit of time talking about the weaponised racism of colonialism, in particular specific destructive acts like the destroying of native language to create a barrier between the people and their culture - thus creating a barrier between them and their identity. As he was speaking in NZ, and has spent some time in the country previously, he talked about parallels between the Kenyan experience and the experiences and struggles of tāngata Māori to retain their taonga (both tangible and intangible) under Pākehā colonialism.
Now, about 90% of the audience was made up of old white people (which, I guess, is par for the course when something’s on during the work/uni day) who were all listening intently and nodding along - and I started to actually get rather pissed off. I do not believe for a single second that none of those people are complicit in upholding colonial Pākehā racism in this country. I’m not saying that there aren’t some Silent Gen and Baby Boomers who are genuinely woke, but I can definitely say that the majority aren’t - just look at voting polls and results in those demographics. So seeing all those people nodding along like ‘oh, yes, racism, so very bad, that poor man’, when I KNOW that a lot of them commit micro-aggressions and racial profiling etc (at the very least) in their day to day life, got me boiling. CONTINUED IN COMMENTS ⬇️⬇️⬇️
The buzz of the #AWF18 Festival Gala Night: True Stories Told Live:Under Cover matched with the hum of a well-crafted 🍷 #centralotagopinotnoir#nzwine . Salute to brilliantly told true stories without prop or script by Susie Boyt (England), Lisa Dwan (Ireland), Gigi Fenster (South Africa/NZ), Alex Ross (US), Damon Salesa (Samoa/ NZ), Tom Scott(NZ), Shashi Tharoor (India) and Jenny Zhang (US). 🍷🍷
“Nook people are those of us who need solitude, but also the sound of someone puttering in the next room.”
Met the powerful and wise @durgapolashi yesterday at @aklwritersfest yesterday. Too Much and Not the Mood is such a pleasure to read, like getting to know a new friend you know you’ll have for life
In the bus on the way home from #aucklandwritersfestival having had the absolute pleasure of spending time with @jesseblackadder over the last few days. So many fabulous writers and readers!! #amreading
Dear Karl Ove Knausgaard,
They say you should never meet your heroes but I couldn’t disagree more. We need to meet our heroes to see that they’re flawed, human, broken, breakable and pieced back together, just like us.
In My Struggle, you never try to be anything you’re not. Hearing you talk about life with such vigour and passion, being so articulate and showing yourself not as an untouchable literary rockstar but as a man that came into stardom accidentally, was immensely grounding.
You are a man: flesh, blood, bones and tendons.
By bringing yourself as close as you can to literature you brought us - a theatre full of people that hung off his every word - together. From the girl that confessed her love for you during Q&A to the people I met and chatted with in the signing line.
When I met you, I wanted say that your meticulous detail and meandering pace helped ground me, helped me appreciate the small parts of everyday life and pay attention to the unique of sensations that make up every day.
So I said: Your books have helped me appreciate the small things in life again, like opening the fridge.
You smiled at that. “Opening the fridge”. Twenty minutes in line, rehearsing what I was going to say and that’s the one moment that came to mind. I felt idiotic. I wanted the world to swallow me.
You showed me that that’s okay because I’m human; flawed, broken and breakable, just like you. -
One can never quite grow up when it comes to the comforting indulgence of being read to😊 Thanks to @aklwritersfest for bringing us much celebrated Canadian Bengali writer Durga Chew Bose with an intimate reading of her essay.:"Since living alone "
"Especially when living alone I’ve described to friends, is akin to waking up on a Saturday and realizing it’s Saturday. That flighty jolt. That made-up sense of repartee with time. Abundance felt from sitting upright in bed; the weight of one’s duvet vanquishing, by some means, all accountability."
После шуток про Трампа в парикмахерской с рогами на стенах и обсуждений феминизма, как формы противопоставления фаллической культуре; после историй о нечеловечной боли от несправедливости мира, правительства и вместе с тем о повседневной любви за то, что мы просто существуем не смотря на то, в каких условиях и какой ценой; после прочитанной вслух главы, посвящённой своей ещё не родившейся дочери от лица автора книги - отца девочки, после его трепетных, простых и очевидных слов, что мурашки по телу от описания полки без книг, которую однажды заполнят «её» любимые сборники детства; после страха за потерявшуюся четырехлетнюю девочку в центре шумного индийского городка, которая никогда на видела Индии и случайно выбежала из машины на проезжую часть; после сексуальных историй о романтических отношениях двух друзей, играющих в страсть, я наконец приземлилась на пол посреди зала в центре Окленда. Первый День длиною в неделю прошёл! Столько вдохновения, столько мыслей, новостей со всего мира! Книжные полки пестрят новыми, пахнущими типографией, историями 📚 одни пишут о Багдаде, другие - о поиске семьи, расколотой Холокостом, третьи - о мемуарах любимому псу, напоминающему ушедшую из жизни мать. Все писатели такие искренние! Шутят о своих мужьях и жёнах, делятся сокровенным, вытирают слезы в уголках глаз и смеются от души. В такие дни хочется обнимать мир!
I am at the #aucklandwritersfestival WOW. Fabulous #wheretonow session last night discussing gender relations following #metoo and #timesup movements tackling some of the unconscious bias against women and legacies of being treated as the inferior human being. Also emotional moment at the welcome powhiri this morning, and finding my book in a festival stack for the first time 😅😅
Today I had the pleasure of meeting @chris_riddell at the @aklwritersfest.
From his illustration work for some of the most memorable books I've ever read in both his own writing and with other authors, to his advocating for reading and libraries, it has all been a big influence on me.
I cannot even begin to express how much it meant to me to be able to meet him and listen to his chat with Kate De Goldi.
I did cry after talking to him and do quite a few crazy little happy dances.
Thank you Chris for all that you do, from the probably way overexcited purple haired young woman in the Aotea foyer who is gunna keep spending her spare time reading, drawing and creating whenever possible.